Benjamin Franklin Representative selections, with introduction, bibliograpy, and notes

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 87

nature's God,"[i-462]
discovering in her bastard children the Deity's "divine skill and
admirable workmanship in the formation of their bodies." In _Proposals
Relating to the Education of Youth in Pensilvania_ (1749) Franklin
remarked in a note on Natural Philosophy that "Proper Books may be,
Ray's _Wisdom of God in the Creation_, Derham's _Physico-Theology_,
[Pluche's?] _Spectacle de la Nature, &c._"[i-463] _Poor Richard_, in
addition to prognostications of weather, survey of roads, Rabelaisian
wit, and aphoristic wisdom, was a popular vehicle for the diffusion of
a Newtonianism bordering on a mild form of deism.[i-464]

Since Franklin's interest in science is too commonly discussed as if his
research were synonymous with a tinkering and utilitarian inventiveness,
it is pertinent to inquire in how far it was at least partially (or even
integrally) the result of his philosophic acceptance of Newtonianism.
Since his philosophic rationale preceded his activities in science, it
will not do to suggest that his interest in science was responsible for
his scientific deism. He wrote (August 15, 1745) to Cadwallader Colden,
who was receptive to Newtonianism, that he [Franklin] "ought to _study_
the sciences" in which hitherto he had merely dabbled.[i-465] Then
follow his electrical experiments. In one of his famous letters on the
properties and effects of electricity (sent to Peter Collinson, July 29,
1750) he allowed that the principle of repulsion "affords another
occasion of adoring that wisdom which has made all things by weight and
measure!"[i-466] Investigating--like a Newton--nature's _laws_, Franklin
at first hand added to his philosophic assurance of the existence of a
Deity, observable in the physical order.

In 1739 Franklin met Reverend George Whitefield, whose sermons and
journals he printed while the evangelist remained in the
colonies.[i-467] He first angled public opinion through the
_Pennsylvania Gazette_, promising to print Whitefield's pieces "if I
find sufficient Encouragement."[i-468] The _Pennsylvania Gazette_
piously hoped that Whitefield's heavenly discourses would be ever
remembered: "May the Impression on all our Souls remain, to the Honour
of God, both in Ministers and People!"[i-469] As editor (perhaps even
writer of some of those notices) Franklin must have squirmed in praising
the activities of one who daily cast all deists in hell! But it should
be observed that if Franklin could not accept Methodistic zeal, he loved
Whitefield, the man.[i-470] Even so did Whitefield regard Franklin, the
man and printer--though not the scientific deist. Waiting to embark for
England in 1740, Whitefield wrote to Franklin from Reedy Island: "Dear
Sir, adieu! I do not despair of your seeing the reasonableness of
Christianity. Apply to God, be willing to do the Divine Will, and you
shall know it."[i-471] Twelve years later Whitefield wrote to his

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Text Comparison with A Book of Gems Choice selections from the writings of Benjamin Franklin

Page 45
There are again times when the hearts of the people are open.
Page 46
No matter about the cause of it; there is the _opportunity_; and we should be ready and go into the harvest and gather precious souls into the fold of Christ.
Page 49
Page 58
What is the use to talk of a church of which there is not a trace in the volume of God, nor in anything written for hundreds of years after the apostles? There is not a trace of Romanism, of a pope, cardinal or archbishop in the Bible, except in the prophecies that foretell the apostasy, nor in any other writing of the first three centuries.
Page 65
There can be no apology for a man who knows what the truth is, what the doctrine of Christ is, what christianity is, who will use it merely as a proof to sustain, prove, and impose something else upon himself and others, for he might just as easily have received the truth, the doctrine of Christ, christianity itself, enjoyed it, and been saved by it, as to have trifled with it, in trying to prove something else by it.
Page 75
From five to six hundred thousand have heard, believed and been called together, and united on apostolic ground—made unspeakably happy in the Lord.
Page 77
They were only restored to health in their mortal state, and liable to be afflicted again.
Page 101
We must open the way for such, in all the churches; show our young men that we are looking for them to come forth and enter upon this great work.
Page 139
The whole question is about him.
Page 177
They are _standing together_ as one man, and “striving for the hope of the gospel.
Page 190
That there should be occasionally a young man, with the views that have been fostered and encouraged by some among us, of a “pastorate,” who would assume authority to cast persons out of the church, and give letters of commendation, is not strange.
Page 193
If a person has delayed turning to the Lord, till some hindrance comes, so that he can not take the steps, or do what the Lord has commanded, to become a christian, he has simply delayed till he can not become a christian.
Page 216
The evangelizing is now needed as much as ever; so is taking care of the churches and teaching the disciples all things that Jesus commanded.
Page 221
After hearing the account given by Cornelius, of his prayer, his having seen an angel, and what the angel said to him, the apostle began upon the great burthen that he carried upon his soul.
Page 225
We must do as they did, or forfeit our claim to be one with them.
Page 245
And if, in the end, the whole could be shown to be a mistake, no man living can show that the believer in the Bible can possibly be in danger, in this world or in the world to come.
Page 275
The speaker can then advance forward near enough to the people to address them effectively, and they can see him from head to foot.
Page 289
, we presented the following, substantially, as the “Shorter.
Page 304
” The Lord calls to his people wherever they may be scattered in Babylon, saying, “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that you receive not of her plagues.
Page 314
All merely human teachings, in all the world, and in all ages, have been imperfect, and, it is a miracle in itself, for a perfect being to appear among men, in human form, or a perfect system of teaching to be presented by him to man.